Dateline: Downtown

Dan Roche

Tom DeLay, the indicted former Republican majority leader of the House of Representatives, has resigned from his position in Congress. There are questions about various political schemes of his in Texas and about his involvement with formerly prominent (now ignominious) lobbyist Jack Abramoff. His chief-of-staff, Tony Rudy, had been running a criminal enterprise out of his office. In short, Tom’s toast.

Toast. Icarus flew too close to the sun. And like Icarus, it was hubris that did Mr. DeLay in. Riding the crest of the 1994 Republican Revolution, Tom DeLay was ready to take on the world and change Washington. The GOP had rebounded from Watergate, and after forty years in control of Congress the Democrats had calcified. The liberal lions of the Tip O’Neill era were retiring and being replaced by career bureaucrats, anemic party apparatchiks who hadn’t fought in the Big One or lived through the Depression. They certainly weren’t the wild-eyed radicals Rush Limbaugh wanted us to think they were; wild-eyed radicals have guts and are exciting. Other Democrats, like James Traficant and Dan Rostenkowski, were simply corrupt. It was time for a change. Maybe America did need a check on the way the Democrats had run things.

Ah, witness fearless Icarus upon his ascent from the grey ground. They swore to get America’s fiscal house in order, to halt excessive government intrusion. They were brimming with noble goals and ambition. Beautiful; sign us up, we sez. Now, a dozen years later, the federal deficit expands at an alarming rate as my generation is spent into the ground. People are actually arguing as to whether allowing warrantless wiretaps on American citizens is a good idea or not- hey, let’s shake Pandora’s Box and see what pops out!

I’ve been voting for Democrats lately. I like individual Democrats and individual Republicans. The two-party machine that dominates the American political sphere seems formidable, but really it’s ridiculous in the saddest sense. There’s no party of ordinary working people, there are hogs feeding at the trough, and a few special Democrats just deluded enough to think that they can honestly work for the public weal. There’s no party of personal responsibility. The Republicans are more interested in granting corporate bailouts for their filthy-rich fellow-travelers than keeping the government out of my goddamned business. It’s Socialism for rich people. Either side will tell me anything they think I want to hear if it means I’ll fill in the spot next to ( R ) or ( D ) on the ballot. A pox on their houses.

Look. I ask that taxes be kept reasonably low, that our government take care of the desperate and the desperate situations, and that I can find a job. But one party can’t win, the other can’t govern, and I trust neither because neither are interested in serving me. I’ve spent the last five years squabbling with pinheaded nincompoops who want me to cede all my rights in the name of “fighting terrorism”, and from the other side all I get are platitudes. What am I going to do, then, vote for a third party? So they can grow entrenched and slothful too, in their turn? Again, a pox! On all their houses!

So as Tom DeLay burns I feel no schadenfreude, only sadness, for the simple fact that we deserve better. Well, I think we deserve better, but that’s only because we can’t do any worse. People, after all, get the leaders they deserve. I’m sad that it’s gotten to this state, that as a citizen of the world’s bastion of liberty I can’t trust the government to ensure domestic freedoms. That the dominant party thinks the key to fighting government corruption is by introducing more corruption from a different angle, by using the Lord’s name in vain on a national scale. Maybe the Democrats have learned their lesson from their time in the wilderness and will come out this November to right all wrongs and put a chicken in every Crock-Pot. But as far as I’m concerned it’s all a crock, and this country is going to pot! Icarus has flown the coop; the next flight leaves at eleven.